Added Sugars

What are added sugars?

Food manufacturers often sweeten recipes by adding sugar or syrups. Since these sugars do not occur naturally in the underlying ingredients, nutritionists refer to them as "added sugars." For example, chocolate milk typically contains cow's milk, cocoa, and sugar. The Nutrition Facts label includes the naturally-occurring sugar in cow's milk (lactose) in the total sugars row but not in the added sugars row. In contrast, the sugar added by the manufacturer is counted as added sugars.

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Do I need added sugars in my diet?

Since added sugars offer very little nutritional value and are a leading cause of weight gain, nutritionists recommend minimizing consumption. The current recommendation is to keep added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories, which is roughly 50 grams of added sugars for a 2,000-calorie diet.1

Are you eating too much added sugar? Keep a food diary and find out. Track added sugars!

Which foods are high in added sugars?

  • Sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and many fruit juices
  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies
  • Jams and sweet toppings
Example Quantity Added Sugar (g)
Skittles 1 bag 45
Coca-Cola 1 can 39
Snickers Bar 1 bar 26
Fruit Punch 8 fl oz 25
Pancake Syrup 2 tbsp 24
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup 2 tbsp 20
Vanilla Ice Cream 2/3 cup 16
Glazed Cake Donut 1 donut 13

How do I identify foods high in added sugars?

While the new Nutrition Facts labels list added sugars, many food manufacturers have been slow to adopt the updated labels. You will often need to look for the following ingredients to see if an item has been sweetened:2

  • Sugars: brown sugar, powdered sugar, raw sugar, and white granulated sugar
  • Syrups: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, and maple syrup
  • Nectars
  • Honey
  • Molasses

Additional Resources

  1. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  2. What are added sugars? US Department of Agriculture.

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